An intimate community with access to the bustling city of Birmingham, Westover is a perfect town-and-country blend. Westover Park has a paved and lighted walking path for on-leash exploration. An animal medical center is located right in town, and several other veterinary practices are available in nearby cities, including 24-hour emergency care in Birmingham. Your fashion-forward pups will love the Lucky Dog Pet Boutique, just a few miles west. Or, sail into the sunset from the public boat launch in nearby Childersburg.
Downtown Birmingham is 25 miles from Westover and full of both canine and human delights. There are over 120 restaurants in Birmingham with dog-friendly patio seating to bask in the balmy Southern weather. For a peaceful take on urban adventure, follow the 1.7-mile Vulcan Trail along the ridge of Red Mountain from the trailhead in Vulcan Park, and look down on this bustling metropolis from above.
The area’s many dog parks offer a variety of environments to keep any pup entertained. The poshest — we mean cost-$500,000-to-build posh — is the Beneful Dream Dog Park in the southern Birmingham suburb of Alabaster. Constructed five years ago as a corporate promotion, the park has a splash pad, tunnel, climbing rocks, play areas for small and large dogs, and a comfortable walking course.
For a change of pace, explore the small city of Columbiana just 15 miles from Westover. Centrally-located Firestone Park is a beautiful green space with 68 acres, 3 lakes, and walking trail for your (on-leash) pack to use. There’s more room to stretch out in Beeswax Creek Park, 1.5 miles east of downtown Columbiana. Beeswax Creek has walking trails for your land-lubbing pups and both boat launches and fishing piers on Lay Lake for your water dogs. The park often hosts fishing tournaments, so you might want to check the calendar before planning a day on the lake with your canine companions.
The Cahaba Beach Dog Park in Brook Haven is a private park, reasonably priced but fancy enough for the most pawticular members of your family. The three leash-free landscaped acres have waterfalls, trails, and an ultimate Frisbee field. All the canine members are temperament-tested, so it’s easy to relax in this natural environment. Just one mile south, and 14.5 miles from Westover, you can splurge some more at the Fancy Fur Pet Boutique, where premium food, high fashion, and specially-made doggie cookies and treats await. There are 24 dog-friendly restaurants within a mile radius, most along Hwy 280. We vote for the patio at Big Bad Breakfast, a great place to stretch out your morning with your own big bad wolves, or even your tiny good boys.
The wild and wooded Oak Mountain State Park is 16 miles from Westover in Pelham. The park offers 25 miles of trail that you can explore with your on-leash friends. Most trails are marked each quarter mile with color-coded distance markers, so you won’t have to trust your nose when it comes to navigation. There’s even a designated phone number to report your location in an emergency. The highlight of any hike at Oak Mountain is the climb to Peavine Falls. It’s a steep ascent, but your long-legged pals can splash in the pool at the base of this 65-foot waterfall. (The water is very cold; bring a towel.)
Sporting dogs should head for the Birmingham suburb of Hoover. The 82-acre Veterans Park, less than 17 miles from Westover, will have your pups in outstanding shape thanks to walking paths around the lake and a 5K cross-country running trail. The human restrooms are a plus. Nearby, the Hoover Dog Park has fenced areas for free play, plus an agility course for your show-dogs-in-training. If your dogs tend more toward artsy or nerdy than athletic (no judgement: we love nerdy dogs), consider a membership at the Aldridge Botanical Gardens in Hoover. One of the members’ perks is an invitation to walk your dogs on the manicured interpretative nature paths on weekday evenings.
For a true wilderness adventure, head to the Talladega National Forest. The forest itself sprawls over a massive 613 square miles, but the Talladega ranger district is just 33 miles from Westover. These beautiful forests were preserved by the US government in the 1930s after logging nearly destroyed them. The Odum Scout Trail offers a 7.5-mile journey through the Cheaha Wilderness Area. At six miles, the steep Chinnabee Silent Trail climbs Talladega Mountain and offers remarkable views, including several waterfalls along the way. Both of these moderate-difficulty trails are lightly used and fully off-the-grid, so make sure you bring water, strong leashes, and everything else you’ll need for a safe hike.